Second episodes often look more like the rest of a television series’ run than first episodes do: pilots, after all, are crafted as sales pieces, rather than ongoing commitments. By the time the second episode rolls around, the sale has probably been made, and everybody on the production team is starting to get into the groove. Or at least understands that there is a groove to get into. It’s a confidence thing.
This is one of the most famous musical set-pieces from the series, wherein Yakko sings a song listing every named country in the world while pointing out each of them on a map. I’ve heard this lots of times — it even made it to the radio for a while, I think — but only noticed for the first time, today, that it’s political, in that he includes Tibet and
Pakistan Palestine as independent countries. Anyway, if this episode of Animaniacs is a must-see, and it is, this segment is the reason why. By far the best thing, ever.
Cookies for Einstein
The obvious model for these kinds of episodes, where the Warners annoy somebody with their zany hijinks, is Bugs Bunny. But there’s a big difference. Bugs Bunny used his powers of annoyance as a defense mechanism against characters who were:
- actively out to hurt him personally (Elmer, Taz, Yosemite Sam) or
- actively trying to hurt some other character (Witch Hazel vs. Hansel and Gretel) or
- actively out to damage the world, or the country, as a whole (Martin the Martian, the Gremlin) or
- his peer or competitor (Daffy)
Generally, a Bugs antagonist will interrupt the wild hare’s life in some cataclysmic way, which brings down Bugs’ wrath and shenanigans and zany and chaos. He always wins; but he’s always the underdog, especially in the beginning, never a bully.
Here, though, the Warners invade Einstein’s life, rather than the other way around. He’s just minding his own business, and they come in with their overwhelmingness and the crazy and the yadda-yadda and the gabba-gabba. You kind of feel sorry for the dude.
It’s an interesting reversal that may have something to do with changing parental attitudes about the acceptability of cartoon conflict. The only “conflict” here is that the Warners want to sell Einstein some scout cookies, and he does not want to buy them, which is very different from, you know, a hunter shooting a gun at a wabbit.
Or it may just be me reading too much into things.
Or it may be that I’m old now, and find energetic children like the Warners more annoying than I should, and identify with fuddy-duddies like Einstein more than the average viewer of this series is expected to.
But either way, I’m not sure I like the dynamics here. The Warners seem less lovable than Bugs, and less lovable than I remember, because of it.
Another (related) note: second episode in a row where the Warners annoy a super-smart guy with a German accent. I’m just saying. On the bright side, the vocal characterizations of the two doctors (Scratchansniff vs. Einstein) are very different, even though they belong to the same general stereotype.
Notable mostly for being the first Pinky & the Brain segment to air. This is the one where they go on a Jeopardy-like game show so they can buy a “super-conductive magnetic infibulator.” I like that Brain never lies about his goals, even on national television. “Why, Alex, I’m going to use my money to try to take over the world!” I also like that Pinky is smarter than I remember him being.
There’s also a Wheel of Morality bit at the end of the episode, the first-ever of such.